| 3.7°C Dublin

Coughlan puts on brave face as 24-year tenure ends

TANAISTE Mary Coughlan was sensationally eliminated on the fourth count in Donegal South West last night.

The most high-profile government minister to lose her seat, Ms Coughlan, a TD of 24 years, ended up with 5,655 votes.

This left her trailing her running mate, Brian O'Domhnaill, by 69 votes.

Dinny McGinley (Fine Gael) and Thomas Pringle (Independent) were sufficiently ahead of Mr O'Domhnaill to take the final two seats when Ms Coughlan's votes were distributed.

Dressed in an all-red ensemble, Ms Coughlan put on a brave face but had left the building by the time the fourth count was announced at 9:30pm.

Speaking earlier in the count centre in Donegal town, Ms Coughlan refused to concede defeat.

Instead, she insisted that the party was still in with a chance of securing one seat in the three-seater constituency.

But she admitted it had been a difficult day for Fianna Fail. "It has been a very difficult day for all of my colleagues, many of whom have lost their seat.

"I wish them well and I also wish those who have been elected on this occasion well and the new government that is going to be appointed," she said.

Although the figures were obviously stacked against her, she would not admit that her 24-year unbroken record as a TD in the Donegal South West constituency had come to an end.

Nor would she be drawn on her future in politics.

"I haven't made any decisions about my political career, she said. "I still remain very much committed to politics and the Fianna Fail party," she added.

Anita Guidera

Sunday Independent